One of the most powerful tools for enhancing one’s recovery and general mental health is making time to connect with nature. This can be done in a variety of ways and integrated into almost any type of lifestyle. Simply spending as little as 20 minutes a day connecting with nature in some way will make a difference. The more a person makes time for the outdoors, the more they find that their time in nature is something they look forward to and require as a part of their recovery.
Many people in recovery fail to recognize the power of nature and the outdoors when it comes to leading a more balanced lifestyle. This is unfortunate because spending too much time indoors or not engaging in any kind of physical activity can actually harm your progress in recovery. Some of the ways this can happen include:
-a higher likelihood of feeling boredom, which can raise the risk of a relapse.
-triggering or exacerbating symptoms of depression
-feelings of loneliness or restlessness
-fatigue or mental fog that makes concentration difficult.
There are numerous benefits that nature provides to one’s mental health and recovery.
Some of these include:
An overall improvement to one’s mental health, especially when it comes to symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that regularly spending time in nature has an impact on mild depression.
Spending time outdoors naturally energizes a person, so that they have more motivation and focus to accomplish more with the rest of their day.
Simply going for a 20 minute walk can improve concentration and mental focus.
Spending time outdoors has been shown to lower levels of stress, something that is especially beneficial to people in recovery who may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress.
A short walk or outdoor outing in the evening gives you a better night of sleep.
Spending time outdoors is good for a person’s physical health as well, because it will likely involve physical activity that keeps the body active and burning calories.
Engaging in outdoor activities also increases the chances of meeting with or connecting with other people.
The good thing about connecting with nature is that it’s free, can be found almost everywhere, and can fit into anyone’s lifestyle.
Here are a few ideas for connecting with nature:
-garden in your yard, or simply plant a few things in containers on a balcony, windowsill, or patio if space is limited.
-spend some time reading a book or magazine in a park or some other outdoor space.
-take a short walk in the morning or evening around the neighborhood, in a park, or some other outdoor space that you enjoy.
-choose to walk to cycle to work if possible.
-spend your lunch break outdoors if possible by finding a sunny location to eat and relax.
-jogging or running for exercise is a great way to enjoy nature and also stay in shape.
-join a walking or hiking club to connect with others who also want to spend time outdoors.
-taking up outdoor photography is another way to be outdoors and also be creative.
-start practicing an outdoor sport like golf or join a sports team that plays outdoors.
-get a dog for companionship and also for a good reason to go on regular outdoor walks.
-fly a kite, have a picnic with friends, go sailing, the possibilities are endless!